Depression Prevention

Developing culturally appropriate and efficacious depression prevention programs can help reduce the mental healthcare disparities in the U.S. by reaching individuals who might not otherwise seek formal mental healthcare services. Previous work has focused on low-income urban children. Our more recent work has been conducted with low-income, Latina mothers. This research has generally been funded by the NIMH.

The Family Coping Skills Program
(PI: Cardemil) [Completed Project]
The FCSP is a novel depression prevention program that we developed for low-income Latina mothers and have evaluated in a small, randomized controlled trial. The FCSP is a group-based cognitive-behavioral intervention with six weekly group sessions, lasting approximately 2 hours each. The two primary goals of the group sessions are for the participants to learn a set of concrete skills that can help them more effectively regulate negative emotions, and for the participants to experience a supportive environment through exposure to other mothers who share common experiences. In addition, the FCSP integrates two separate family sessions whereby each participant and one adult family member (e.g., spouse, partner, other supportive adult) meet with the intervention leader twice over the course of the program. The primary goals of the family sessions are to introduce the program staff to family members, and to provide some psychoeducation around depression and stress, stress management, and problem-solving. Results generally support the efficacy of the FCSP re: depressive symptoms. We have written up three papers from this work, and we are currently writing up the final results for publication.

The Penn Resiliency Program
(PI: Cardemil) [Completed Project]
The Penn Resiliency Program was developed at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s by Drs. Martin Seligman, Jane Gillham, Lisa Jaycox, and Karen Reivich. It has been investigated in numerous trials and shown to be efficacious in both treating current symptoms of depression and preventing the development of subsequent symptoms of depression. Together with Karen Reivich, we adapted the PRP for use with low-income, urban African American and Latino youth. Results were intriguing: the PRP showed strong effects for the Latino youth, but non-significant effects for the African American youth. Closer examination of the African American data indicate that the null findings were driven primarily by a reduction in depressive symptoms among the no-intervention control youth, a pattern of findings that runs contrary to the established literature on depression among adolescents. Three papers were published from this work.